“For Giotto, [his rediscovery of creating illusion of depth on a flat surface] was not only a trick to be displayed for its own sake. It enabled him to change the whole conception of painting. Instead of using the methods of picture-writing he could create the illusion as if the sacred story were happening before our very eyes… He followed the advice of friars who exhorted the people in their sermons to visualize in their mind, when reading the Bible and the legends of the saints, what it must have looked like when a carpenter’s family fled to Egypt or when the Lord was nailed to the cross. He did not rest till he had thought it all out afresh: how would a man stand, how would he act, if he took part in such an event? Moreover, how would such a gesture or movement present itself to our eyes?…
“Painting, for [Giotto], is more than a substitute for the written word. We seem to witness the real event as if it were enacted on a stage… We remember that early Christian art had reverted to the old Oriental idea that to tell a story clearly every figure had to be shown completely, almost as was done in Egyptian art. Giotto abandoned these ideas. He shows us so convincingly how each figure reflects the grief of the tragic scene that we sense the same grief in the cowering figures whose faces are hidden from us.”
Ernst H. Gombrich, “Chapter 10: The Church Triumphant,” The Story of Art, 15th edition
Crying, My Little One
Christina Rossetti, 1893
Crying, my little one, footsore and weary?
Fall asleep, pretty one, warm on my shoulder:
I must tramp on through the winter night dreary,
While snow falls on me colder and colder.
You are my one, and I have not another;
Sleep soft, my darling, my trouble and treasure;
Sleep warm and soft in the arms of your mother,
Dreaming of pretty things, dreaming of pleasure.
A Little Poetry—This poem comes from Rossetti’s nursery rhyme collection Sing Song.
A Little Music—Natalie Merchant sings “Crying, My Little One” (a rearrangement of the original lines) in her album Leave Your Sleep; you can listen to the entire track on YouTube. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNsmjZzdAf4>